A Frankford High School student who is accused of punching a Philadelphia school police officer says
was the one assaulted - by two officers - a version of events his lawyer said was supported by surveillance video and eyewitnesses.
Jeffione Thomas, 18, was arrested on assault charges Oct. 29 after scuffling with two truancy officers in a Frankford High lobby.
The officers approached Thomas because he was walking into the school late and asked him to stop so he could be reported for truancy, said his lawyer, Fortunato Perri Jr.
When Thomas ignored the request and continued into school, Perri said, the officers ran up behind Thomas and forced him to the ground.
"He was assaulted by these two officers so severely that he had to be taken to the hospital," Perri said. The school's security cameras captured the episode, he said.
The school district is investigating, and several witnesses have been interviewed, district spokesman Fernando Gallard said.
"We are looking at all allegations, and we're taking this very seriously," he said.
The officers' names have not been released. The school police officers union could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Thomas, who plays football for Frankford, suffered facial cuts, a black eye, and a split lip that required stitches. He missed several football games as a result, Perri said.
Thomas was charged with aggravated assault and taken to a hospital by police. Since he was 17 at the time, the case went to Juvenile Court, where it's scheduled to be heard Monday.
Perri said he planned to ask that it be postponed until his own investigation was completed. He also plans to bring the case to the attention of the District Attorney's Office.
Perri, who has seen the video surveillance of the fight, said it seemed clear the officers had used excessive force.
"The evidence will be abundantly clear that Jeff is innocent," Perri said.
News of the incident quickly spread through the school, and teachers and administrators have jumped to Thomas' defense. The school's athletic director, Jack Creighton, has demanded that the school thoroughly investigate, Perri said.